Advancing entrepreneurship in all communities

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What is the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge?

The BX Challenge provides grant funding to innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in the Chicago area. The selected programs will serve diverse populations, including communities of color, women, veterans, and immigrants.

The inaugural BX Challenge will award up to $3 million in grant funding over 3 years.

Why Inclusive Entrepreneurship?

Over the past six years, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation has supported new company formation and job creation by investing in entrepreneurship globally. To continue economic growth and combat issues of economic disparity, all communities should have access to a full range of resources that help grow and scale local ventures. This first-of-its-kind program seeks to create a cohort of programs that employ innovative strategies to recruit, train, and scale these ventures.

Learn How it works

  • Submission of Proposals

    Proposals accepted from Wednesday, January 25th to Friday, March 24th at 11:59pm PT.
  • Selection of Cohort

    We will select a cohort of up to 6 organizations who will receive a total of $1 million. Announcement will be made in May 2017.
  • Year 1 Activities

    Organizations will focus on deploying strategies to recruit and engage entrepreneurs from the target populations in their programs. Programs will officially launch in July 2017.
  • Year 2-3 Activities

    Organizations will focus on helping to scale and grow the most successful entrepreneurs within their programs.

Cohort Activities

We will host regular convenings and networking events for the cohort to foster collaboration and the sharing of best practices to maximize the regional impact of Blackstone's investment. In addition, we will link the leadership of the cohort with the resources of Blackstone and the broader Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Who's Eligible to Apply?

  • Be classified as a "Public Charity" with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Be in operation as a 501(c)(3) public charity for a minimum of 24 months prior to applying for the grant.
  • Operate a program within the city limits of Chicago.
  • Report total operating revenues for the last full fiscal year, including in-kind donations, between $300,000 and $10M.
  • Independently file an IRS Form 990 and/or be independently audited. In regards to this requirement, please note:
    • For an organization filing an IRS Form 990 annually, the most recently filed IRS Form 990 must be included in the Letter of Inquiry to verify operating revenues are in the required range.
    • For an organization not filing an IRS Form 990 or for a local applicant consolidated with other entities on a Form 990 (i.e. local chapter of a national organization or a local organization partnering with a larger institution not based in Chicago), the applicant’s last full fiscal year audit report documenting revenues must be included in the Letter of Inquiry to verify operating revenues are in the required range.
Apply here

Here are the Key Dates

  • Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge Officially Opens

  • Proposals Due by 11:59pm PT

  • Review Period

  • Grant Awards Announcement

  • Official Launch of Programs

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions

Recent News

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Mayor Emanuel, Blackstone Charitable Foundation and World Business Chicago Launch Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and World Business Chicago (WBC) today launched the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge (“Blackstone Challenge”). The three-year pilot program will award up to $3.4 million in grants to innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale start-ups in the Chicago area. The selected programs will serve diverse populations, including communities of color, women, veterans and immigrants. Chicago has been chosen as the first city for this pilot program.
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Brought to You By The Blackstone Charitable Foundation

I am thrilled that the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is launching its first inclusive entrepreneurship program in my hometown. We hope that this program will serve as a model for other cities seeking to increase support and opportunities for entrepreneurs from all communities.
— Jon Gray, Global Head of Blackstone Real Estate

Blackstone Charitable FoundationWorld Business ChicagoChicagoNEXT

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities.

Click here to learn more about the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

About World Business Chicago/ChicagoNEXT

Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago drives regional economic growth. WBC collaborates to create jobs, cultivate talent, and put Chicago at the forefront of the global economy. A unique public-private partnership, WBC engages business and community leaders to advance Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.

ChicagoNEXT leads WBC’s dedicated effort to drive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s tech economy through a portfolio of initiatives and programs governed by a council of technology leaders. With the mission to grow Chicago’s vibrant tech ecosystem, ChicagoNEXT strategic focus areas include industry, talent, capital and community.

Contact Us

For all questions related to the program, please email foundation@blackstone.com